RTC Live: Preseason NIT SemifinalsPosted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2011
The Grand-daddy of all preseason tournaments tips off with its semifinal round tonight at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Enjoy some pre-Thanksgiving hoops with Stanford vs. Oklahoma State, followed by Syracuse vs. Virginia Tech this evening. Join us for the conversation, after the jump.
Our first game at the Garden tonight involves two young teams looking to surprise in their respective conferences. The Pac-12 has been a bit shaky so far and the opportunity is there for Johnny Dawkins’ Stanford team to make a move up the conference standings. This will be the stiffest test to date for a very young Cardinal team. Four of Stanford’s top six scorers are freshmen or sophomores but dependable senior leaders Josh Owens and Jarrett Mann could be the difference between an NIT bid and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Getting a win tonight against a solid Oklahoma State club could be huge in March. As for the Cowboys, Travis Ford landed Le’Bryan Nash and Cezar Guerrero in the last recruiting season and they’ve been thrown into the fire immediately. Guerrero had a terrific game against Texas-San Antonio last week, a game in which Oklahoma State needed a massive comeback in the late minutes to defeat the pesky Roadrunners. Guerrero tied a freshman school record with 29 points en route to the win that allowed the Cowboys to make the trip to New York tonight. Five of OSU’s top seven scorers are freshmen or sophomores, similar to Stanford. This should actually be the better of the two games from a competitive standpoint.
The star power is in the second game. A top five Syracuse club heads downstate to the city and the school’s vast alumni and fan base. Expect a decidedly pro-Orange crowd, as is the case with every Syracuse game at MSG. The Orange have breezed through their early slate of cupcakes, winning by an average of 32.5 PPG. While the competition hasn’t been tough, we’re pretty sure Syracuse is for real. This team is incredibly deep at just about every spot on the floor and should cause major problems for a Virginia Tech team adjusting to life without Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen. The Hokies have shot the ball very well so far this season but facing the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone will be a steep challenge for Seth Greenberg’s squad. For Virginia Tech to keep it close, it will have to rebound well and move the ball efficiently around and through the teeth of the zone.
It will be #5 Syracuse against Stanford in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The Orange overcame a slow start before putting away Virginia Tech in the second semifinal on Wednesday night. Stanford took care of a somber Oklahoma State team, still in shock over the passing of women’s head basketball coach Kurt Budke, assistant Miranda Serna and two others last week. Cardinal forward Josh Owens made his first nine shots from the floor, part of a 21 point effort on 10-12 shooting. Chasson Randle scored 17 points while Aaron Bright chipped in 15 for Stanford in the 82-67 victory. The Cardinal (5-0) out-rebounded Oklahoma State 40 to 29 and used an 18-0 run to seize control of the game, pushing the lead to 28 at one point in the second half. Star freshman Le’Bryan Nash led the Cowboys (3-1) with 16 points but also committed four turnovers in the process. In the second game, Virginia Tech used a slower pace and stingy defense to frustrate Syracuse offensively during the first half. The Hokies led by two points at the break but the Orange used a 17-3 run in the second half to take control, similar to Stanford in the first game, and win by a score of 69-58. Dion Waiters (11 points) and C.J. Fair (12/10) sparked the Orange (5-0) in the second half while Brandon Triche and Kris Joseph were solid all game long. Fab Melo added five blocks for the victors, who shot 55.2% in the second half. Jarell Eddie and Erick Green played very well for the Hokies (3-1) in a losing effort. Virginia Tech will face Oklahoma State at 2:30pm on Friday in the consolation game while Syracuse and Stanford lock horns in the championship tilt at 5:00 pm in front of what is sure to be another partisan Syracuse crowd.